I made a clapper

Self-made clapperThis post is completely sewing related yet doesn’t contain any actual sewing. I ventured into woodworking and made myself a clapper! Perhaps you now wonder what a clapper is? It is a wooden pressing tool. It is used to give seams or folds an additional press immediately after pressing with a steam iron. This helps to make things even flatter. It is apparently very useful for sewing jeans because all those layers of denim can get quite thick and the flatter you get a seam before topstitching the easier it will be.

Some of the tools and supplies I used, I forgot to add the drill and screwdriver. The orange plastic thingy is used for spacing the drilling holes for the handle.

Some of the tools and supplies I used, I forgot to add the drill and screwdriver. The orange plastic thingy is used for spacing drilling holes.

I looked around for clappers but couldn’t find any in the Netherlands (I am not even sure what it is called in Dutch, so that probably didn’t help my search) and buying one abroad would probably cost me at least €30-40 including shipping. That is just too much for something that is in essence a simple block of hardwood. I figured I would make one myself and went to a hardware store.

Look how similar those 2 pieces are in size!

Check out how similar those 2 pieces are in size!

My first idea was to buy a piece of hardwood and shape that into a clapper. That would probably have worked well and I still think this is the easiest option if you would like to make a clapper yourself. However, they only sold really long pieces and to get one the width and thickness I wanted I would have had to spend €30+ euro on a single piece of wood of which I would only use maybe a tenth, which seemed a bit of a waste (and not really cheaper than buying a ready made clapper). I also didn’t really see myself getting home safely on my bike while carrying a more than 2 meter long piece of quite heavy wood.


I put a piece of laminate flooring underneath the door sill piece because I didn’t want to drill into the tiles.

So, I wandered a bit around the store looking for other items that I could potentially convert into a clapper. I found some solid beech wood door sills. Beech wood is hardwood but I’m not sure whether this is the best option for a clapper. Anyway, I was willing to give it a try, and at just over €5 it seemed a much better option than the ridiculously long piece of wood. A door sill isn’t really thick though so I decided to use two layers, glue those together and add a drawer handle on top that I could use to press my clapper down on my seams.


I learned from my dad that you can’t really start a project like this without first buying some new tools so I bought a wood saw. I needed to cut down my door sill into smaller pieces after all and for some strange reason we did own a metal saw but not a wood saw. I also considered getting a workmate but sadly couldn’t fit one on my bike… Some wood glue and fine grit sandpaper completed my purchases.

I put the piece of laminate flooring underneath and vinyl floor on top to prevent indentations in the wood from the G-clamp.

I put the piece of laminate flooring underneath and vinyl flooring on top to prevent indentations in the wood from the G-clamp.

I first sawed two pieces from the door sill. I was quite amazed at how straight and equally sized my two pieces ended up. I then drilled two holes into one of the pieces for the handle that would be large enough to fit the screws. Then I sanded both pieces first with 80, then 120, 240 and finally 320 grit sandpaper. Especially the sides needed to become a lot smoother after sawing. The handle was put in place with a screwdriver, and the holes were almost perfect! I got a little excited at this point. The wood glue was put on one of the pieces and the two pieces were held together with a G-clamp. I only used one because I could only find one (perhaps we only have one?) but two would probably have been better.

Finished clapper.

After successfully completing this project I am feeling competent on a whole new level. Perhaps I should take a woodworking course and learn how to make dovetails next?

Does a project like this scare you or are you quite handy with saws and power tools?

Pressing buddies, will they get me flatter seams in the future?

Pressing buddies, will they get me flatter seams in the future?

20 comments on “I made a clapper

  1. Ali says:

    Well done! It’s maybe a good job you went to the store on your bike, you’d have come home with all sorts if you’d gone in a car and you’ve done a fab job with just the basics. I think you could make and sell them locally to other sewists who don’t want to have to pay shopping costs from abroad. 😃

    • Emmely says:

      I don’t have a driver’s license so I don’t have much choice when I go someplace on my own. If I go somewhere by car it’s usually with my boyfriend and I’m pretty sure he’d have stopped me from going too crazy…
      I don’t think I have enough patience to make multiples, I’m just happy with this one. ;-)

  2. Well done, I remember using one of these when I did a lot of dressmaking years ago. I just used a wooden block, yours is much nicer with a handle.

    • Emmely says:

      A wooden block is really all you need. The handle does make it easier to grab though and the way I constructed it out of two layers it was quite easy to add one.

  3. katechiconi says:

    Congratulations! If they don’t exist in the Netherlands, you can feel free to name your clapper what you like. Give it a good name, not just ‘afplatter’ or something boringly descriptive…

  4. onedabbles says:

    Ingenious and fantastic result. You have a great can-do attitude. I would buy your naad-plat-houten-ijzer (Google translate is a hoot.) If I could draw, I’d draw you on your bicycle blithely pedalling home with the large piece of wood, with pedestrians ducking left and right – or a panier of metal objects and you thinking, ‘How hard can it be to make an overlocker?’

  5. Deborah says:

    Wow! That is awesome! I’m not personally adverse to tools and woodworking, but I just can’t keep up with what I already have going. I’m so impressed with you you rose to the challenge. It appears that you may be planning to sew some jeans in the near future? :-D

    • Emmely says:

      Yes, jeans are very high on the agenda. I’ll probably blog a bit about the whole process of making them as it also involves making the pattern and fitting a muslin.

      • Deborah says:

        I’m definitely interested in your process. I love your posts. The process and the clarity with which you describe it. I can’t wait. :-)

  6. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Fantastic ingenuity! Congratulations on your design & courage! Let us know when you begin manufacturing.

  7. […] found) is Infectious Stitches. Emmely, the owner of the blog,  is a very handy lady she even made her own clapper, pretty cool.  Emmely was having a giveaway and I put my name in the hat so to speak . It was the […]

  8. I’ve been looking for something just like you’ve posted! I knew I could make a clapper myself but needed a picture to look at of a “homemade” one. thank you so much for posting this.

  9. OrahLee H. says:

    I just ran across your post. WAY TO GO !!! I also agree with your Dad, you should buy a new tool whenever you have a new project. Your sewing needs can have the same rule too !!! Keep up the sewing and making-do !!! Best Wishes.
    OrahLee H.

  10. Joyce says:

    Here in the US the newest tool to have is a clapper for quilting, a much smaller version that I used in high school for wool working. This is a perfect idea, great instructions, thank you!!

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